We all know how important sunscreen is for our skin health and you may even know that skincare and sunscreen should work together. But, did you know that if you’re putting sunscreen on your skin without applying a good antioxidant, your sunscreen will be less effective?!
Antioxidants will assist your skin’s natural UV filter, melanin, to help protect your skin cells from damage. Melanin is the substance responsible for skin pigmentation and is stimulated by UV exposure, converting sun radiation into heat instead of damaging oxidative stress & free radicals. If you have a higher level of melanin, you’ll enjoy a higher level of natural sun protection. If you score a 4, 5, or 6 on the Fitzpatrick scale, you won’t burn as easily as someone with a lower score; you naturally have more protective pigment in your skin. However, melanomas do not discriminate. Even darker skin tones can still get skin cancer, so please always exercise caution in the sun!
Your melanin should not be overcharged with the task of protecting your skin. Enter sunscreen and antioxidants.
Antioxidants add another level of cellular protection when you’re exposed to UV rays. The right antioxidants give internal cell protection from UV while your sunscreen provides external protection. So, what are the right antioxidants for the job? UV-protecting actives will also combat oxidative stress and include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Co-Enzyme Q10
- Green Tea Extract
- Grape Seed Extract
- Laminaria Digitata
Our skin treatment therapists will be able to guide you on the best way to incorporate antioxidants into your skincare regime. Find your closest here if you’re unsure.
Now, let’s talk about sunscreen and the facts: higher numbers don’t always mean better protection.
The number rating (15+, 30+, 50+) are linked to your skin’s natural burn time. If your burn time is 10 minutes, an SPF 15 will give you 15 x 10 minutes before you need to reapply. SPF 30 gives you 30 x your burn time. Of course, it’s not an exact science so don’t rely on this calculation for your reapplication. Ensure you reapply after swimming, sweating, working out or anything else that may have taken off the physical cream. As for the level of UV protection, there is only about a 6% difference in the level of protection between and SPF 15 and an SPF 50.
Your burn rate is just part of the equation, though. Other important things to note when you’re considering sunscreen SPF and reapplication include:
- Your skin: if you have very fair skin and apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30+, you might need to reapply every 45 to 60 minutes. If you have darker skin, however, 30+ might last a little longer before you need to apply more.
- Your skin’s health: Skin barrier matters; when your pH is correct ,it will contain more trans-urocanic acid, giving the skin natural defence against UVB radiation and will also support antimicrobial properties.
- Time of the day: the intensity of the sun’s rays depends on the time of day and where the sun is positioned in the sky.
- Season: you also need to factor in the seasons, as the sun is more intense at different times of the year.
- Altitude: you’re more likely to be affected by the sun if you’re up higher than down lower.
- Location: reflected sun causes damage too. Keep an eye out for bright sand and water, which can intensify the effects of the sun.
- Clouds: while clouds can somewhat reduce the effect of the sun’s rays, you will still suffer skin damage if it’s cloudy and you’re unprotected.
- UV index: the UV index depends on what’s happening on that particular day.
We strongly believe that knowledge is power and hope this information empowers you when you’re popping into clinic to pick up your sunscreen & skincare and discussing your bespoke skin prescription with your skin treatment therapist.
Stay sun safe!